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coverpic flag New Zealand - Full Moon 241 - 04/22/16

I'll Forget 17
Partisan Records

Lontalius is young New Zealander Eddie Johnston. Johnston, or Lontalius, hails from Wellington, the capital city on the southwestern tip of the North Island. At age 18, he's come up with his solo album debut entitled I'll Forget 17. After sweet 16, the even harsher and more sour 17 follows. And further on it goes...

Lontalius is Eddie Johnston's solo project, but additional players (sometimes) count his friends Taylor, Daniel and Miles. At 18, he's still in his youth but he's created a collection of matured sounding pop songs dipped and drenched in melancholia. The themes of the songs are connected/contexted to/with the love and life of 'the teen being', with and all the troubles and challenges coming along. As in youth in general. Like his record label, the Brooklyn, NY based Partisan Records (which's got Ages and Ages, BOBBY, Dolorean, Field Report (a.k.a. Christopher Porterfiled, who has played with Justin Vernon's DeYarmond Edison), Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady), The Dismemberment Plan, Heartless Bastards, Holy Sons, the Iceland based John Grant (formerly of The Czars and a collaborator with Midlake and Ásgeir Trausti), The Amazing (Sweden), Treetop Flyers (UK), The Wytches (UK), plus others) puts it: 'Like many teens, Johnston feels everything acutely: first love, the ephemeral nature of said love, the turmoil of the larger world as well as the need to experience that world.' Expect songs of existentialism, the state of transition, and the feeling of being heartbroken and lost.

There's a certain darkness within his songs, though they are slightly uplifting as well. The sound of the comfort of the feeling of being dragged down or slowly sinking. Lontalius has launched three singles from the album; "All I Wanna Say" and "Kick in the Head" late last year, followed by "Glow" in early January. The careful and mellow "A Feeling So Sweet" opens the album but it is quickly followed by the warm and passionate single "All I Wanna Say". "Kick In The Head" is one of his best songs, along with "My Dreams Are Dark", the beautiful closing track "Yr Heart Is Beating", and the shining "Glow". Listening to some of the songs from I'll Forget 17 (well, most of them) makes me imagine the sound and music of if one-man band East River Pipe (a.k.a. Fred F.M. Cornog, described as 'the Brian Wilson of home recording' by The New York Times), or The Magnetic Fields were doing Radiohead (or Thom Yorke solo) and/or Pulp songs (yes, even The National comes to mind - of a band being covered, that is).

"Light Shines Through Dust" really does sound like pop music shimmering in the air around us, making the corns of dust sparkle. In "It's Not Love" Johnston sings ' sinks into your head how it hurts but it's not love...'. I'll Forget 17 is the sound of emotions in motion, slowly revolving. The ten-song record is a discreet and wonderful album. The tunes are toned down, being brittle, sad and lonely pop songs. Behind, or underneath the despair and hopelessness, there's hope. Like Johnston says: 'I'm not really sad. I'm emotional, but I'm not depressed. I just like sad music.' Sad music can be good music.

PS! There was a rumour going on that Johnston was a classmate of fellow New Zealander, Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor - better known as Lorde. It was a hoax, of course, but both Johnston and Lorde played along on Twitter. They even met, just before Lorde's "Royals" took off big-time and rocketed sky high.

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